Saturday, August 2, 2014

Been there, done that. Sort of.


I've been around a bit since I started travelling at 23, especially over the last 10 years - but I wish I'd done it all properly. Almost right from the beginning of my travels, I've dipped in and out. My OE back in 1977 was abandoned just three countries in, in Singapore, when I realised I didn't have enough money to continue overland all the way through south-east Asia and beyond to Europe: I flew straight to London. In 1980 when I had a second go at it, it was less back-packing, more jet-setting, with only 3-4 nights in most of the countries we visited on the route back to the UK from NZ, through Australia, Asia, India, Russia, Scandinavia and northern Europe.

Despite living for nearly 17 years just across the Channel from Europe, I only got to France a handful of times, and then mostly to the same areas. On trips between England and New Zealand, I added more countries to my tally, but only on short visits. And now that I'm a travel writer, it's the pattern to swoop in, whisk past umpteen places, skimming over the top, and then return home again just a week or so later.

I envy my daughters, one of whom is making a thorough job of South America, going to far more places than I ever did (though some of them are the same, eg Iguassu, above) while the other is taking weeks to cycle the full length of France, from Cherbourg all the way down into Spain, and then across to Antibes. Their experiences are so much more thorough than mine, more real, more in touch. Good for them, but I wish I could start again. It's too late now, though, so I'll have to be content with a tasting menu rather than gorging myself.

At least I've done Australia properly - so well that sometimes I think I've used that continent up. But tomorrow I'm filling in a gap: back to the Northern Territory, one of my favourite bits, to do some tramping and camping in Kakadu. I'm really looking forward to it, crocodiles notwithstanding. No internet though. See you on the other side.

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